J S Bach: Du treuer Gott
Leipzig Cantatas BWV 101 – 103 – 115
Collegium Vocale Gent, Philippe Herreweghe
Outhere music LPH027.62’26Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott BWV 101
Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit BWV 115
Ihr werdet weinen und heulen BWV 103
Following two earlier CDs (LPH006 and LPH012) that focussed on cantatas written during Bach’s first year in Leipzig, this recording looks at the second cycle of cantatas, composed in 1724/5. Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer is based on the chorale melody better known as Vater unser im Himmelreich, the Lutheran version of the Lord’s Prayer. Apart from the first aria (with its delightfully jovial flute solo), this well-known melody is heard in all movements. The two recitatives are interesting, with both alternating the chorale melody with recitative passages, the first in a particularly dramatic mood, the second with some evocative harmonic sequences. The central bass aria also switches between chorale and aria. Bach uses a strong orchestration, with three trombones, three oboes, an oboe da caccia, and a cornett – an unusual use of an instrument that would have been seen as distinctly old-fashioned at the time. The final aria, a reflective duet for soprano and alto, combines flute and oboe da caccia.
Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit is a more meditative cantata. The opening chorus is a chorale fantasia underlain by a passacaglia accompaniment, the sopranos singing the chorale together with a florid flute, oboe d’amore and string accompaniment. The first, alto, aria includes a plaintive oboe d’amore to reflect the slumbers of the text. The reflectively languid second, soprano, aria features flute and a violoncello piccolo. The cantata finishes with a simple concluding chorale. Bass and tenor provide the two recitatives. It is perhaps in this cantata that Philippe Herreweghe’s eminently thoughtful approach to the music is best revealed. He allows Bach’s music to speak through in a naturally flowing manner, with minimal interpretational interference.
The third cantata, Ihr werdet weinen und heulen was composed for the third Sunday after Easter in 1725. It references the Gospel reading of the day where Jesus announces that “your sorrow shall be turned into joy”. The contrast between music of sorrow and joy threads through the whole cantata. The unusual opening chorus combines early motet forms with more operatic writing, with the prominent use of a flauto piccolo, includes a central arioso section for bass solo (representing Christ) in contrast to the intense melodic line of the chorale fugue, the whole encased within a florid accompaniment. The flauto piccolo (played by Jan van Hoecke) is to the fore in the first (tenor) aria. The mood of the text of the following recitative is reflected in a change of key signature from B minor to the closing D major on the word Freude/joy. The second aria, for alto, continues that latter mood, adding a solo trumpet and a flurry of fanfares to reflect the predicted return of Jesus.
The four impressive vocal soloists are Dorothee Mields (soprano), Damien Guillon (alto), Thomas Hobbs (tenor), and Peter Kooij (bass). The instrumentalists of Collegium Vocale Gent are on similarly top form – organ continuo player Maude Gratton in particular deserves a mention. Three contrasting cantatas, each with their own distinctive style, in a technically and musically outstanding recording.